Peter Ellis (W 1969-1971) shares his interest in Walhampton's history from across the Atlantic
Peter has fond memories of Walhampton and expresses his debt of gratitude to his parents and teachers...
Peter Ellis, International Alumni, Walhampton 1969-1971
From across the Atlantic, Peter Ellis found some Walhampton items on Ebay which he sent directly to school to add to the archives. What a lovely surprise! Following this came a raft of fascinating emails about the history of Walhampton, including the artistic endeavours of the Burrard family who owned the estate for several centuries. We are enormously grateful to Peter for sharing his interest and knowledge of the school with us and his purchases (an old school advert and an old OS map) will be added to our archives and used when writing a history of Walhampton. Thank you so much, Peter!
Peter Ellis, Walhampton 1969 - 1971
Both of my parents are British but they emigrated to North America. I was born in USA and we lived in USA, until Dad (a civil engineer for IBM) was moved to England "temporarily" in 1969. During these years I was lucky enough to experience a proper British education; spending two years at Walhampton (1969-1971) followed by three years at Marlborough College (from 1971-1974).
We returned to the US in 1974 as Dad's IBM UK assignment was concluded. After a year in an American high school, I pursued a BSc Engineering degree at Cornell University, concentrating on Applied & Engineering Physics and Material Sciences.
My working career (1975-2008) was spent in Northern California (Silicon Valley) in the semiconductor industry, Sales & Marketing Management with Hewlett Packard and its various evolutions - Agilent, Avago (today merged with Broadcom).
I was living near the beach in Northern California (close to San Francisco & Silicon Valley) enjoying natural wildlife of the region, sailing, kayaking, hiking, SCUBA diving and traveling (including Vietnam, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Galapagos).
For the last 10 years I have been retired from industry and, whilst I still have my home in Santa Cruz, I have been living in New York, happy to assume the role of caregiver/caretaker. I provide the full-time care that my Dad initially, and now my Mum, needs, while maintaining the family property... thus enabling them to spend their final years in their own home. Since they encouraged and paid for my Walhampton experience... it’s the least I can do.
Regarding Walhampton, I have so many fond memories of the people, places & faces of both teachers & students... but I will limit it to teachers for now:
- Chris Knox’s History Hut - I remember a lot of British history! Good work!
- Patrick Kealy’s French Lab – anything less than perfection felt like failure
- Pete Underwood’s Math Classes – watch out for flying chalk & erasers and PJ Underwood was a fabulous coach for Rugby & cricket
- Alan Berry’s Gym & Soccer classes.. & great Athletics program
- Major Dunlop – fabulous fun & learning took place in the Geography & science labs
- Robin Murray Walker – thank you for your counsel & guidance. Sorry I sucked at Latin
- John Elphinstone – For the imaginative & creative story telling session he inspired as we spoke into his Philips cassette tape recorder (that was high tech for the day!)
- Mike Hutchinson – Played a mean church organ and inspired us all musically
- Matrons - Mrs Stebbing, Ms Jackie Shakespeare, & Ms Pipa Dundas
- PL, JB & Gerald Carey – all class acts.
Best other memories:
- Riding in the New Forest – Galloping (what an amazing opportunity)
- House Swimming Races on Swim Day
- Singing in the choir
- Walking up the main stair case (if you were commended)
- Winning the Cup for 13 catches in 10 cricket matches
- 1ST XI & 1ST XV Colors
- The plethora of activities & hobbies that we could participate in
- The clicking sound of cricket boot spikes and soccer rugby studs on the asphalt
- 4 o’clock little tea cocoa or coffee
- The “hooter” - the hand cranked siren that could be heard anywhere on campus & helped keep time for us all and let us know that free time was over.
- Scoring a (really great) goal in the Scott vs Shackleton house game THEN I managed to score an “own goal” in the same game... we lost 4-3.
- As opening batsmen for the 1st XI, getting bowled out on the first ball against Christchurch (we did win the game by 1 run in the end thank goodness).
- Getting caught by Gerald Hamilton in Matron’s bedroom watching the Apollo mission on TV.
- Being called out during Saturday assembly by JB as one of 6 new patrol leaders which would not be confirmed (as was expected) since he didn’t believe we yet demonstrated appropriate exemplary behaviour. (How embarrassing!) We were confirmed 2 weeks later.
- Running in the rain around the lakes when it was too wet to play games on the fields.
- Freezing hands... and having to put under cold water to warm up and avoid chill blains.
My parents always understood the importance of a good education. I am forever grateful to Mum, Dad and the Walhampton staff & students for the unforgettable opportunities & education we all enjoyed in this fabulous learning environment. The experiences brought out the very best in all of us and set the tone for how we live and treat others.
What a magical place it was then, even if we may not have fully appreciated it at the time. Today it looks even more special. I would not mind being a young boy all over again at Walhampton.